There’s a good chance that you’ve already heard Eganam Segbefia perform. Even though the trumpeter is not expecting to release his first album until later this year, he’s managed to play for hundreds of thousands of people each day at one of NYC’s most prime venues—Grand Central Station. Monday through Friday, the classically-trained musician wakes up at 4:30 a.m., heads to midtown, and takes the stage during rush hour on the shuttle platform.
“The first time I ever performed at Grand Central, I was very nervous because I didn’t know how people would react,” recalls Eganam. “As I warmed up on my scales, slurs, and arpeggios, people walked by and looked with a curious eye. Once I began performing my repertoire, my eyes wandered vigorously, trying to read people’s reactions and to my relief, the commuters enjoyed my playing. Some stopped to listen, others smiled as they passed by, and many actually began to walk to the tempo of the music!”
On first approach, you can’t help but notice Eganam’s powerful rendition of classical standards, but his appearance is also striking. The musician has a cool air about him and looks as sharp in his everyday uniform of trousers and basics as he does in a well-designed suit—something he often wears for performing outside of the subway at other venues like Carnegie Hall with the International Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, or right here, on our photo shoot at The Top of the Standard.
He was especially thrilled with the selection of blazers, trousers, and shirts from the Boglioli Spring ’16 collection, because it just happened to fit him so incredibly well. On slipping into a virgin wool two-button suit, he smiled when the tailor nodded with approval—few alterations were needed. “That really helped me feel confident being photographed,” he said. “The fabric of the double-breasted sportcoat was lightweight and so comfortable to move around in, but the relaxed feel didn’t sacrifice the impeccable fit.”
Performing in a public space like Grand Central has its perks: a few months ago, Eganam was spotted by the program director at New York’s classical music radio station, WQXR. The station was so impressed with him, they offered to produce his first album. “It’s an absolute dream come true to be putting my album together right now,” he says. It will include a mix of classical repertoire and hymns from his native country Ghana, many of which were sung to him by his mother when he was younger.
When asked why he likes performing at Grand Central Station, Eganam expresses not only his passion for the music, but also a love for the interactions he gets to have with New Yorkers from all walks of life. He considers it a privilege to be able to perform for the public and receive feedback, encouragement, and critique. He cherishes the moments of impacting someone’s day for the positive and thinks of it as an extra special treat when someone takes a moment to stop and listen.
“I perform ‘Flight of The Bumblebee’ a lot during rush hour. People commuting resemble a colony of bees—a seeming chaos that on closer examination, works together and moves in rhythm to and from their destinations.” (We observe him perform the fast-paced opera interlude and it clearly speeds people up!) “I also love performing ‘Ave Maria,’ because it’s a beautiful song which flows gracefully and has its way of bringing tranquility to its listeners,” he says. “Subway rides can be quite aggravating sometimes, so why not perform a piece that is peaceful and calming for people as they’re on their way to work?”
2016 is turning out to be a big year in the young musician’s life. Immediately following the shoot, Eganam received more good news: He was accepted to the Masters of Music program for classical trumpet at Manhattan School of Music. We’re not surprised that the hardworking artist made the cut. You only need to spend a few passing moments in his presence to take in his drive, energy, and talent—as exhibited by his smiling, speed-walking fans each and every morning.